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Re: Flandreau Cemetery New Rochelle
Posted by: Peter Gunn (ID *****7619) Date: September 18, 2008 at 12:26:02
In Reply to: Flandreau Cemetery New Rochelle by Jeannine Rousseau (now Shields) of 135

Jeannine, thanks for your update.

I continue to be very interested in the preservation of the Flandreau Cemetery in New Rochelle/Mamaroneck. When I was living upstate in Ithaca in the late 'nineties, I made a few visits to the site, to clear away brush and trash, examine and unearth stones, and make local inquiries. Unfortunately, I'm now living in my home state of Oregon again, and can no longer afford even occasional visits.

I do have a fair bit of information about the history of the site, much of which is posted either here in the forum or the RootsWeb database that I reference here.

I'll repeat a few thoughts that I've posted elsewhere here in the forum:

- Over time, various neighbors have shown an interest in preserving the site, but have felt limited in what they're able to do, lacking a concerted effort.

- At one time the neighbors who lived in the house whose driveway is adjacent to the site treated it as an extension of their yard. However, on my visits, they seemed to be neither actively using nor misusing it.

- On my visits there were still a few stones visible, though none still standing on their own, having been broken at the bases for the most part. I have documents of what stones were present in the 1890's and in the 1920's with their texts listed. This information is readily available also at the Westchester County Archives in Elmsford.

- I think it is extremely likely that most of the stones from the early twentieth century are still onsite, but under a few inches of soil. What is really required is a thorough excavation of the site with an eye not just to uncovering the stones, but also preserving them from the elements.

- The County at one time took the position that there was nothing to be done about the site without the action on the part of the descendants of the family buried there. I have a long list of living Flandreaus, and all of those to whom I've spoken feel strongly that the site should be cleaned up and preserved.

However, one challenge is that it's not clear that any of these living Flandreaus are descendants of the actual individuals buried there. Their ancestors were all part of the same larger New Rochelle family and would likely have been alllowed burial there, but they were siblings and cousins of the Benjamin Flandreau who established the cemetery, not his direct descendants.

All that said, my main concern is the preservation of the historical record. I'd be delighted if someone got in there and removed the brush and smaller trees from the site, and located and unearthed the stones and stone fragments in the site. I'm just concerned about what will happen afterwards. Will that leave the stones exposed to the elements and vandalism?

At one time I proposed a couple of courses of action that I thought could improve matters: finding an Eagle Scout candidate looking for a manageable cemetery preservation project (those sorts of projects are perfect for them), or finding an archeology professor at a local college who might be willing to take on a respectful excavation of the site, possibly down to the graves themselves, with restoration to a cemetery state again afterwards. I actually really like the idea of the latter course, because it might help determine just who is buried there, by connecting the relative locations of graves to what little we know of the families from church records, stone transcriptions, and census information.

I look forward to your next update.

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